You could probably translate the name of this event without consulting a French-to-English dictionary. It means "concourse (or gathering) of elegance." The tradition started in the 17th Century when Parisian aristocracy paraded their horse-drawn carriages through city parks.
Today, it's the rich and famous who parade their fancy, antique automobiles around Pebble Beach. In fact, classic automobile owners have been bringing their finely-restored vehicles to the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance since the 1950s. It's an event for the cars' owners to get together, but it's also a chance for folks who love fine automotive design to get a look.
The Pebble Beach Concours is popular with anyone who loves elegant, classic vehicles, or who wants to see a few of the latest new model releases and concept cars. It is outstanding for the range and quality of vehicles, some of which are never seen outside of museums and private collections.
Most of the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance is held in and around the Lodge at Pebble Beach. They leave Pebble Beach for the Tour d'Elegance, a slow-moving parade that passes through downtown Carmel. On Concours Sunday, classic cars are displayed on the eighteenth fairway of the Pebble Beach Golf Links, with coastal scenery as beautiful as the automobiles for a backdrop.
Concours d'Elegance on a Limited Budget
If you just want to see those incredible classic autos and can't afford the ticketed events, go for the Tour d'Elegance. Think of it as 1950s-style cruising, but all dressed up. The gorgeous classic vehicles go on parade on Thursday, starting at Pebble Beach. They follow the original 17-Mile Drive, circle the track at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and stop mid-day in downtown Carmel.
They stay in town for a couple of hours before heading back to Pebble Beach. For easy parking, get into town before 10:00 a.m.
If you can't make it then or if you're a car buff who can't get enough, see More Auto-Related Events below.
Other Concours d'Elegance Events
Pebble Beach Motoring Classic: If you happen to own a classic car that makes the grade for entry, you can join the three-day drive that starts near Seattle and ends at Pebble Beach on Wednesday before the Concours.
Pebble Beach RetroAuto: Free to the public, retro car enthusiasts can see on display rare collectibles, historic automobilia, art, and literature, and the latest luxury car items and tools for today's drivers.
Collector car auctions are also held during the Concours, with vehicles setting records for their multi-million-dollar selling prices. And it will cost you just to watch.
New Model Introductions: The Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance is a favorite time for luxury car brands to unveil their newest models. After the formal introduction, they put them on display in large, tented pavilions.
Only the finest collector cars are invited to Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance and on Concours Sunday, from mid-morning through the afternoon; you can view them parked on the turf of the 18th Fairway of the Pebble Beach golf course.
The event would be worth a visit for that alone, but you can also see futuristic concept cars, pavilions showcasing the latest luxury vehicles and some fascinating classic motorcycles. Allow a little extra time if you want to shop in the marketplace, which is mostly devoted to classic auto-related merchandise.
If you can't walk around a lot, Concours Sunday is not for you. Unfortunately, it's not possible to control smoking outdoors, and some people complain about all the stinking cigars.
Official dress code is "dressy to resort casual," but many attendees dress more casually than that. Consider flat-soled shoes for walking on the grass.
More Auto-Related Events: Monterey Automotive Week
The Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance is the longest-running automotive event in the area, spawning a bunch of others.
Check the website for Monterey Auto Week to get the full schedule of rallies, auctions, shows, and celebrations, including the Concours d'Lemons, which celebrates (in their own words) the "oddball, mundane and truly awful of the automotive world."
Many folks bring picnics and watch the awards ceremonies. Concession stands on the show field serve surprisingly mundane fare. A better choice is a light lunch in the deli across from the Lodge. Or a substantial breakfast before you go.
Many of the car makers' pavilions serve wine and appetizers. No invitation required.
You'll find plenty of restroom facilities, the nicest portable ones we've ever seen.
Tickets and Reservations for Concours Sunday
General Admission tickets include parking and shuttle bus. Club d'Elegance tickets include a VIP parking pass, breakfast, and lunch, along with other goodies.
Children under 12 years old get in free with an adult. Before you think about taking the kids, consider whether they would enjoy spending hours walking around looking at the automobiles (but not touching them). This fancy pants event isn't the best place to be with an active toddler, either.
Buy tickets at the Concours website, call their charitable partner, United Way Monterey County at 877-693-0009 - or get them at the gate for a slightly higher price.
The Concours d'Elegance runs from Wednesday through Sunday of the third weekend in August. You can get more information at the Pebble Beach Concours website.
How to Get to Pebble Beach Concours Sunday
Concours d'Elegance is located in Pebble Beach off of CA Highway 1. Find directions and parking information at the Pebble Beach Concours website.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer received complimentary admission to review the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. It has not influenced this review, but TripSavvy believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.